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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 29, 2011

From: Miami, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native ixora full of weeds in Miami FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Ixoras are full of weeds look like some kind of berry. Is there a way to get rid of them?

ANSWER:

We are assuming you would like a quick and easy way to get rid of the "weeds," which may be native plants, while not harming your Ixora coccinea, Jungle Geranium, in the process. Ixora is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally. Here is an article from Floridata that has more information on the culture of Ixora.

We know that most of our correspondents want a spray that will selectively kill some plants and spare others. Unfortunately, there are really only 3 basic kinds of herbicides. A full spectrum herbicide will kill everything and melt your sidewalk, a herbicide for monocots will kill grasses and other narrow leaf plants. The third kind of herbicide kills broadleaf plants. Since the Ixora is a broadleaf plant, you don't want to use a broadleaf or dicot spray. Even trying to be careful and spray it directly on the offending weed will not work-once the spray leaves the nozzle it is free to drift where it will, with help from the wind.

The only safe way to get rid of weeds is to pull them out, and destroy the seeds before they have a chance to drop on the ground. The berries that you are seeing on the weeds are their seeds and your first priority is to cut them off and dispose of them, don't just snip them and leave them on the ground, that could lead to more of the same growing. If you can pull the whole plant out, good. If it is a woody or semi-woody plant, with a larger stem section near the ground, cut it off with heavy clippers as near to the soil as possible. Have some disposable sponge paintbrushes and a small jar of undiluted broad spectrum herbicide ready. Paint the herbicide on the cut surface of the plant root within 5 minutes before the root begins to heal over to protect itself. This will likely require several applications, and you will have to remain vigilant for suckers and seedlings appearing in other parts of your garden.

 

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